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A story of two cities: UTEP’s Kenneth Talavera

Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela
At UTEP, Kenneth Talavera runs the 800-meter, 1,500-meter and one-mile races in the spring.

Editor’s note: This article is a part a three-part series featuring student-athletes from the Mexican State of Chihuahua. 

Kenneth Talavera is known to some across UTEP as a star track and cross-country athlete. The junior has earned All-Conference USA First Team honors on a very competitive roster with countless accolades in his designated events of the 800-meter, 1,500-meter and one-mile runs.  

What makes Talavera stand out from most is he is only one of a handful of UTEP student-athletes who are from Ciudad Juárez; El Paso’s sister city. The distance runner attended the Mexican Institute of Ciudad Juárez (Instituto México de Cd. Juárez) but started running track back in middle school despite it not being too big of a sport in Ciudad Juárez.  

There, Talavera began to run mostly for fun, but soon began to pick up on fundamentals and technique while focusing on his main sport at the time, soccer.  

“By my freshman year of high school in Juárez, I was really involved in track and field,” Talavera said. “I used to go to national meets in Mexico. (Track and field) is not that popular in Juárez, but actually there is a big running community of 10K runners and 5K runners.”  

During his junior year of high school, Talavera spent the year in Mexico City where he trained and went to school in hopes of becoming a better runner. 

He would eventually come back to Ciudad Juárez to better his academic standings along with his English in order to attend a school in the U.S.  

When most international student-athletes look back on their experiences abroad, they tend to find challenges in adapting to a new culture, language and people. For Talavera, that was was not the case. This is due impart to how constantly the track star traveled between the two border cities.  

“Well, of course my freshman year and my sophomore year here were very hard for me,” Talavera said. “But I have been crossing the border since I can remember. Here at UTEP most of the population here is Hispanic people, so there are not really struggles. I like El Paso, I like Juárez, and, in my opinion, they are the same cities. Because I’m crossing the border at least once a week. I think I was already used to coming to El Paso and there were no big changes in my thoughts about El Paso.”  

For those native to El Paso, UTEP is not their first choice. Several high school graduates find themselves itching to leave, but for Talavera, this feeling did not exist. UTEP also offered Talavera something that not many schools can offer.  

“I saw UTEP as my dream school,” Talavera said. “Normally people in Juárez will go to UACJ (the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juárez) or other schools in Juárez; and they are very good. But, since I was a child, I wanted to do a sport. So, when I had the chance to do track and field and the chance to represent UTEP, I did not think twice. Having this opportunity to run D1 and not being that far from my house, I think that is the main thing.”  

Talavera hopes to come back to UTEP soon after receiving his bachelor’s degree in construction management, with a master’s degree in Talavera’s sight, but he hopes to keep running in any capacity.  

“I started out in civil engineering, but I got this class that was named construction management and that was my favorite class,” Talavera said. “I’m more into the management of civil engineering, so that is why I made the change. The plan is to try to get a master’s degree after my eligibility years and maybe make it to the pro scene. Right now, my plan is just to enjoy one year at a time and then try to keep improving.”  

Talavera, along with the rest of the track and field team are set to compete at the New Mexico Spring Invitational Thursday, April 6 at the University of New Mexico Track and Field and Soccer Complex in Albuquerque, New Mexico with the Conference USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships just over a month away for the Juarez native. Talavera has already snagged gold for the mile race at the C-USA Indoor T&F Championships earlier last year, something he accomplished just a year prior. 

Talavara has a simple message for aspiring international athletes. 

“I think the main advice I will give is to not be afraid of anything,” Talavera said. “Sometimes, you will receive some opportunities to come to the U.S. and you may just reject them, because do not know English, but I will say, just take the take the opportunities that you get and don’t be afraid just go for it.” 

Statistics provided by UTEP Athletics and 

Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela Armendariz is the sports editor and may be reached at [email protected]: @rivasemmanuel2 on Instagram 

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About the Contributor
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela, Contributor/Writer
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela is a contributor for The Prospector. He is a senior majoring in multimedia journalism with minors in political science and Chicano studies. Emmanuel served as sports editor at The Prospector and as a writer with Minero Magazine. Now, Emmanuel is interning at El Paso Matters and is a contributor at The Prospector.
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A story of two cities: UTEP’s Kenneth Talavera